06/30/2016 — Everything in the world of normal, apparent reality is a portal/threshold/doorway to the Other World of invisible, intangible, ineffable reality. And we think the point is to leave here and go there. The point is realization. If everything in this world is an opening to that world, then WE are what we seek, and only need to be who we are in order to bring that world into this one. The pilgrims on their trek to the holy sites are holy themselves– holiness seeking holiness. They only have to wake up and stop trying to escape this world, But transform it by being themselves, bringing that world to life in this world by simply being who they are.
Used in Short Talks on Good and Bad Religion — 06/30/2016 — Mourning Dove 2016 02 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 30, 2016 All true religion begins with an experience with the ineffable, with an encounter with numinous reality. Like falling in love. I fell in love with a camera. No kidding. It was sitting on a poolside table in a made-for-TV-movie in 1966 Staring Robert Wagner. And I did not have anyone in my life to help me interpret the experience. We are too often lost to the experience with none to help us make sense of it. A religious experience can be with anything, but it cannot be with everything. And we cannot plan it, schedule it, organize it, orchestrate it, choreograph it, produce it, box it, sell it, mass market it… We turn a corner, and a piano falls out of the sky on our head. And we don’t know what to do. And have on one to ask. I’ve been working with the experience of falling in love with a camera for over 50 years. It was the organizing experience of my life. I went to seminary to figure it out— to interpret it, understand it. Hermeneutics and exegesis are about interpreting and understanding experience before they are about interpreting and understanding scripture. The latter comes out of the former. I thought I would figure out my experience and help people understand their own. I discovered people who didn’t have experiences with the Numen, and weren’t interested in having any. “Just tell us what to believe Preacher, And make it quick. I tee-off at 1:30.” No one can give you religion. It hides around corners in the form of falling pianos. or made-for-TV-movies. When it shocks you awake with it’s arrival, sit with it for a while seeking to interpret it in ways that honor it and incorporate it into your life— finding ways to form your life around it. The dance will last forever.
Used in Short Talks on Good and Bad Religion — 07/01/2016 — Eastern Towhee 2016 02 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 30, 2016 We have an experience with the ineffable— an encounter with numinous reality— and we spend the rest of our life working to understand it. That is the essence of true religion. We have devolved religion into an assortment of opinions— which we call “beliefs,” and “doctrines— about the Numen, and spend our time arguing among the sects about whose collection of opinions is right and whose are wrong. The experience of the Numen has been supplanted by theories about the Numen. Anyone with conviction is an authority, and religion is widely avoided by everyone who recognizes a sham when they see one.
07/02/2016 — Goodale 2015 65 Panorama — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2016 We have to apply the principles of hermeneutics and exegesis to each situation as it arises— so that we see what is to be seen, hear what is to be heard, understand what is to be understood, and know what’s what there, and what to do in response to it. Then, we only need the courage to do it to be at one with the Tao and in accord with our life in the moment of our living. Right seeing, Right hearing, Right understanding/interpretation/evaluation Is right knowing Which becomes right doing And equals right being (In that doing is being, and being is doing). When we impose our desires, designs, purposes and plans on a situation things are wrong from the start. Our agenda has to be No Agenda— just seeing, just hearing, just understanding, just knowing, just doing, just being, at one with the moment and what needs to happen there, in light of the interests of all that is there, for the good of the whole, in every moment. That’s it.
07/02/2016 — Cardinal 2016 19 — Cardinal With Blackberry, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 17, 2016 We keep throwing things in the path, blocking the way, damming the flow, jamming the silence with noise from every side on every level, wondering where Nirvana is, and which way the Land of Promise. There will be no movement on the Journey until we do something with ourselves— something along the lines of realizing who we are, and who we are not, and what we are doing to keep from knowing what we know about the life we are living and the life that is ours to live.
07/01/2016 — Brown Thrasher 2016 04 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 30, 2016 The life we are living prevents us from living the life that waits to be lived. The Hero’s Journey is from one way of life to another. Salvation has nothing to do with believing or thinking. It has everything to do with how we live our life. It doesn’t matter what we believe as long as we live in accord with how things are, and in alignment with the life that is ours to live— that only we can live— in the service of the genius and gifts that are ours to share, exhibit, express, incarnate. All of our real problems stem from our refusal to find our life and live it. By refusing to do what is hard, we do things the hard way.
07/04/2016 — Sunflower on Black 2016 01 — Sunflower courtesy of Draper Wildlife Management Area, York County, South Carolina, July 3, 2016 We have to be the authority in charge of our own life. We have the final word regarding what we do and do not. We decide for ourselves what is right and not right, what is important and unimportant. Where we will set our limits, place our boundaries, draw our lines. We have to know what constitutes the ground, center and foundation of our life, and live in light of it— in service to it— all our life long. If we cannot say “Yes, this is so with me” about all of these things, we know the work that is ours to do. beginning now.
07/04/2016 — Mourning Dove 2016 04 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 04, 2016 Brexit is an excellent example of the center being unable to hold against the pull of extreme positions. We cannot count the number of marriages that have dissolved because those married moved away from the center toward opposite extremes. We have to take care of the center by refusing extreme reactions to extreme actions. Everyone cannot abandon the center at the same time. When someone rushes to the extreme everyone else has to remain cool— in light of the truth of the old saw, “It takes at least two people to have a fight, but one person can keep a really bad argument from escalating into a complete nuclear meltdown.”
07/05/2016 — Red-bellied Woodpecker 2016 05 — Red-bellied Woodpecker With Blackberry, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 30, 2016 Reality is our only hope! We would never grow up without it!
07/05/2016 — Black Snake 2016 12 — Out of the Trees, Back on the Ground, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 23, 2016 Reality’s place in our life is to wake us up, grow us up, against our will, all our life long. We rail against it, run from it, deny it, and pretend it away. But, it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s always right there, grinning. Reality loves its job, and does it with a flourish usually reserved for bull fighters. That would make us the bull. And you know the outcome from the start. It would behoove us to change our attitude about reality, and see it as our able assistant in the work to see how things are and do what needs to be done about them. Going over to reality’s side shoots us past all the resistance and whining, and puts us in the position of going to meet what is coming to meet us, dealing with it straight up, taking care of business, and looking for more of it, knowing that it won’t be long before we hear it calling our name.
07/06/2016 — Blue Jay 2016 02 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 5, 2016 In digging for the gold, start with your fear, anxiety, terror, dread… Start with the things you avoid, the things you won’t look at, the things you refuse to consider. Start with the things you find things to occupy your time and attention so you won’t think about them. Think about those things. That’s where the gold is hiding. Joseph Campbell said, “The treasure you seek is found in the far back corner of the cave you most do not want to enter.” Walk into your fear and look around. Sit down with your anxiety, terror, dread… And listen until you hear what they have to say. Look until you see past them through them, to the truth they are hiding. and the lie the represent. Our fear, etc., is based on the lie of our incapacity to deal with the thing feared. At the ground level, we are afraid we cannot meet the demands of our life. We are afraid we do not have what it takes to be who we are, to do what is ours to do. We owe it to ourselves to find out. What we will discover if we look is that there is way more to us than meets the eye, more than we ever imagine. We have depths and abilities past all expectation, beyond all reason. Ulysses faced the Cyclops, and we are afraid we can’t get a job. The gold we seek is the stuff we are made of— the stuff we think isn’t there. We are killing ourselves by being afraid to look for the stuff of life within.
07/06/2016 — Sunflower Collage 2016 — Sunflowers courtesy of Draper Wildlife Management Area, York County, South Carolina, July 3, 2016 Living is the lesson, life is the teacher. Everything we need to know about living is available by reflecting on our experience with life— and reflecting on our conclusions regarding our experience. There are no sacred conclusions. Everything we think about our life is a theory waiting to be refuted or ratified by additional experience. When was the last time you changed your mind? If it has been more than a week, you aren’t doing enough reflecting. You are too comfortable with old insights and conclusions. And, if they were handed to you by someone else, it could be that you aren’t reflecting at all. What do you think about that?
07/07/2016 — Chameleon 2016 05 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 4, 2016 I see no difference between meditation and reflection. The two are one. The skills necessary for the Hero’s Journey, the Spiritual Journey, awakening and growing up (All of which are metaphors for the same experience) are: Observation, Meditation/Reflection Realization, Implementation/Execution/Application, Observation, and the repetition of the remaining steps in the process for the remainder of our life. No one can do this for us. No one can tell us what our life is asking of us, or when and how to do it. We work it all out on our own. Our life is our responsibility— met, not by thinking it out in a rational/logical kind of way, but by observing, meditating/reflecting, realizing, implementing/executing/applying, observing… We should be told this at the start, and reminded of it often, all along the way.
07/07/2016 — Black-and-white Warbler 2016 06 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 7, 2016 Growing up means doing what you don’t want to do the way it ought to be done— the way you would do it if you wanted to do it with all your heart— because the situation needs you to do it. How well you do that in each situation as it arises is an indication of your degree of maturity, and is the only measure that is worth anything.
07/01/2016 — 07/08/2016 — Sunflowers 2016 03 — Draper Wildlife Management Area, York County, South Carolina, July 3, 2016 Listen to your body! Your body will tell you everything you need to know. We resist, override, overrule, discount, dismiss, disregard, ignore the signals from our body to our peril every time. We cannot fight a winning fight with our body. Why would we want to even try? We can negotiate with our body to see what we can get by with, We must not kid ourselves about what we are getting by with. When our body says stop, we stop. When our body says rest, we rest. When our body says drink, we drink. Water. When our body says eat, we eat. Wisely. When our body says no, we don’t. One of the keys to a long, healthy and happy life is being able to take “No” for an answer— particularly from our body. What is your body saying that you aren’t listening to?
07/08/2016 — House Finch 2016 05 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 8, 2016 The way you can be most helpful to me and everyone else is by giving us your full attention– Listening, looking, seeing, hearing. End of story. Well, not quite. By giving us your full attention, you enable us to pay attention to ourselves. You listen us into hearing what we have to say. You see us into seeing ourselves. You reflect us back to us better than a full length mirror, and there we are. Guess how often we see ourselves that way. Think how often you see yourself that way. The numbers are going to match.
07/09/2016 — Goodale 2015 61 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 15, 2015 It comes down to what we like and what we don’t like. There is a catch we generally ignore. Doing what we like requires us to do what we don’t like. A lot of us fail to make that connection, and therein lies the root of most of our problems. It is ridiculous to think we can only do what we like. This is the orientation of the Terrible Two’s. As the old saw goes, “We want to have our cake and eat it, too.” We can eat it, but then, it’s gone A healthy lifestyle means giving up the decadence and self-indulgence of sugar, saturated fat, alcohol and sedentary living. So, we compromise, eat only two pieces of bread per week and call that doing the best we can. Doing what we want kills us, when we refuse to comprehend how often that means doing what we don’t want in the service of what we do want.
07/09/2016 — Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2016 08 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 9, 2016 Mindful (compassionate, non-judgmental) awareness takes the full situation into account and takes us taking the full situation into account into account, so that everything is taken into account that can be taken into account. This is called being transparent to ourselves within a situation that is transparent to us. It is also called seeing into the heart of every matter. When we see all that can be seen on the level of the heart of all things, what needs to be done is obvious. When we wait for the mud to clear— that is, to be clear about the confusion, the chaos, the conflict, opposition and polarities— what can be done is clear, and what needs to be done to do it is also clear. Then, there is only doing it. For instance, police have to stop killing black people whose only crime is being black. And Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans have to stop demonizing Black people, gay people, women, Muslims and Latinos. Now, there is only getting them to do it. It will be easier to vote them out of office.
07/10/2016 — Red-bellied Woodpecker 2016 06 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 9, 2016 Centered, grounded, in the core of what is important to us, we are at-one with our life, and in sync with what we need to do with it. In my case, I am clear about what I need to do, and what I do not need to do. Things that encourage/allow silence, stillness and looking out the window (And my hammock is a wonderful window looking out on the woods and on the world), are things I need to spend time with. Things that are noisy, shallow and mindless— like cocktail parties, family reunions, and sporting events— are things I need to avoid. All paths look equally attractive to those without roots to the core
07/10/2016 — Hummingbird Collage 2016 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 10, 2016 — I put up a Hummingbird feeder today, about ten feet from the hammock. Business was good. When you go looking for your core, for the foundation stone, for the bedrock center of what matters to you, go sit quietly in a natural place— or, lie in a hammock— for an hour or more, and return often to repeat the experience. This is your practice, sitting in the stillness of a natural place, You’re waiting for a shift to occur, a perceptible click felt in your body when you move out of one world into another. You are waiting to look forward to the return to stillness. You are waiting to miss it when you move out of it— to yearn for it in a way that is surprising and beyond understanding. You are discovering that silence matters to you. and within the silence, realization. Silence is the path to seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing/being. In the silence things occur to you you could never think up trying. Be still and quiet. Listen, look. It has always been this simple, From the dawn of time. Doing it is the difficult part.
07/11/2016 — Blue Bird 2016 03 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 21, 2016 Wealth is not going to protect you. there is no protection. You are at the mercy of forces quite beyond you. And you are on your own. This is the realization that marks the turning point in your life. Life takes off from here, or it stops here. Suicide and all of the addictions have their source in this realization. Denial, distraction, diversion and despair have their origin in this realization. It is the swing point between life and death. All of the rites of initiation are about forcing this realization upon the initiates— about weeding them out early on— to see who has what it takes to be of value to the tribe, and who does not. Without the rites, we meet our turning points individually, in the haphazard delivery of the blows, trials and ordeals of our life. In those places, we have to know we are facing the Cyclops in one of his many manifestations on the road to our own Odyssey, which is to say to our own maturation and self-realization. We have to know that we have what it takes to rise to the occasion to any occasion, and claim the treasure— which has noting to do with wealth, and everything to do with the knowledge that we are safe with ourselves, and have everything we need to find what we need to do what needs to be done— what needs us to do it— and continue on the way on the journey of self-realization and maturation and the salvation of the world.
07/10/2016 — Brown Thrasher 2016 03 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 24, 2016 Where are you suffering from the betrayal of your expectations? How consciously are you accepting and bearing the pain of that suffering? It is an old psychological saw to say that the refusal to bear the pain of legitimate suffering is the heart of all our problems. It is not that we suffer consciously, exorcising the demon by naming it and carrying its pain in our body until we have come to terms with it and made our peace with it— It is our refusal, our failure, to suffer at all that is the problem. Where are you NOT suffering from the betrayal of your expectations? From the failure of your life to be what you hoped it would be— to be what you wanted it to be? Face up to the places where your life has let you down. And bear consciously the pain.
07/12/2016 — Feeder Photos 2016 01, 02, 03, 04 — Pay Attention Little Hummingbird (01); Uh-Oh (02); Watch Out! (03); See? TOL-JA! (04} — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 12, 2016 Our dreams are Psyche’s rendition of how things currently are with us in our life. They are a daily snapshot of what’s what— of where we are kidding ourselves— of where we have to get to work, squaring up to reality, making our peace with how it is, and seeking to find and ground ourselves in the center of our heart/soul/self and align ourselves with it in the way we live our life, integrating inner with outer, and living a life of full integrity throughout the time left for living. Listen to your dreams. They are our soul’s way of pointing out what is so, and trusting us to take it from there.
Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., 07/12/2016 — Sunflowers 2016 01 Panorama —Draper Wildlife Management Area, York County, near Brattonsville, SC, July 3, 2016 We cannot live with integrity without living mindfully aware of our contradictions and polarities. We bear the pain by living consciously within the tension of our opposites: “This, too. This, too.” We cannot kid ourselves about who we are and also are, and how it is with us, and live with integrity. Thus, living with integrity is synonymous with living with humility, kindness, grace, civility, generosity, good will, good faith, compassion, peace and all of the other wonderful old values at the heart of life and being.
07/13/2016 — Black-capped Chickadee & Downy Woodpecker Panorama 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 30, 2016 We live in the service of archaic values— good faith, good will, grace, compassion, justice, peace, self-discipline respect for self and all others… The list is long which sets us against the upstart wannabe values of commerce and the economy: wealth, privilege, position, prestige, celebrity status, exploitation and profiteering, profit at any price, our personal good at the expense of everyone else’s and all other things’… How must Psyche feel, as the Mother of the Good of all of her children, with them living with only the good of themselves in mind?
07/13/2016 — Cypress Trees 2015 04 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015 The prophets of every religion have a lot in common with Obi wan Kenobi and Yoda. They all were waiting for someone to hear what they had to say, to need what they had to offer. So don’t despair when it appears that your gifts, genius and talents are going to waste. Keep practicing your art. Trust your audience to appear. and, if it does not, you still have your art, and your life would have been paltry without it.
07/13/2016 — Three Sunbathing Babes 2016 01 —Mamma Cardinal and Her Two Daughters, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 8, 2016 We have to face up to our betrayed expectations, come to terms with them, make our peace with them, as they happen, otherwise, we will keep looking for our life to make it up to us, to off-set it in some unbelievably wondrous way— which becomes another betrayed expectation— and the downward spiral is a quick trip to the end of our rope. When our expectations are betrayed, we have to: Square up to it! Bear the pain! Mourn our losses! And let them be, because they are, and that’s that. We listen to our dreams, do our Inner Work, see what our life is asking of us, and what needs to be done here and now, do it and repeat the process
07/14/2016 — Feeder Photos 2016 06 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 12, 2016 — I place about 1/2 cup of water in top of the Hummingbird feeder as a barrier to ants seeking the sweet stuff below. I let the Tufted Titmice think I do it for them.
Your practice consists of two things: Do your work— the work that is yours to do, that no one but you can do the way you do it— Live to be increasingly transparent to yourself— attend your dreams, consciously transform all of your “mind-wandering” episodes into experiences with Active Imagination (Google the term) to see what they have to say about yourself (To say to you from your Self). Self-awareness is primal awareness— primary awareness— leading to every other variety of awareness there might be. Know your work and do it. Know your Self and be it. All there is to it.
07/14/2016 — Brown Thrasher 2016 05 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 14, 2016 — I don’t know how to distinguish male and female Brown Thrasher’s. I think of this one as “she.” She appears to be in a crisis, and the next photo will appear to be even more serious, but. she is, to the best of my ability to read a bird’s mind, enjoying the wonder of the morning sun after a long dark night. For several generations, we have been of the opinion that if it can’t be weighed, measured, fenced in or photographed, it isn’t real. The Real World is the one available to our senses. The invisible world is “just in our mind.” “It’s all in our imagination.” There have been times and places— and still are places even in these times— where the reverse was considered to be the way it is. I’m not here to argue who is right, so much, as to point out that the physical world can seem to be the only world, And the invisible/spiritual world can seem to be the only world. The two are one. There is one world, and aspects of it are visible and otherwise apparent to the senses. And aspects of it are invisible and immune to our experiments, but quite available to our ability to “apprehend more than we can comprehend” (Abraham Heschel). Every element in the physical universe is a threshold, a portal, a doorway, into the other universe, the invisible, intangible one. It only takes being open to all that is present in any moment, to know that there is more there than meets the eye. Or the ear. Practice making yourself accessible to what is accessible to you, to the invisible/spiritual world approachable through this world of physical reality. Find your holy places– “thin places” (Parker Palmer)– where the Numen winks at you and stirs your soul. Spend time in them often, lost in the wonder of more than words can say.
07/14/2016 — Brown Thrasher 2016 06 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 14, 2016 — It looks for all the world as though she had a seizure and keeled over dead. It would be more accurate to interpret this as Thrasher Ecstasy. After about twenty seconds, she moved to a more comfortable place, and loved the sun some more, as the next photo will show. You know by now that my highest hope for us is that we see what we look at. particularly what we look at in the mirror. The only strategy I’ve developed for doing that is to keep looking until you see. In other words, don’t stop too soon. don’t think you get it just to be done with it. Seeing is a lifelong task. We see with our experience, reflection, insight and realization– not with our eyes. Sometimes we have to get closer to something to see it, And sometimes, we have to get farther away. All of this takes time, so, don’t think you have to have it figured out and put away by a certain time, so that you can get on with your life. Seeing IS your life! And dancing. We live to dance with what we see.
07/15/2016 — Brown Thrasher 2016 06 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 14, 2016 — All appearances to the contrary, this bird is relishing her moment in the sun. She lay there for about a minute before gathering herself up to meet the day. I am saddened into grief and anguish over all the people in Trump’s camp. How can anyone think the way he thinks is the way to think? How can we find common ground among those who think like Trump and those who think like me? How are we going to come together? Live in harmony? All those people filled with such hatred and fear… How they must suffer their life each day! How they must live with such hopelessness, rage and despair! To think that they pin their hopes on a man like Trump! As empty and as shallow as any man ever has been! As immature, unwilling and unable to help anyone! Who has he ever helped? When has he ever offered so much as a cup of cold water To those parched for thirst? Shelter to those freezing in a winter downpour? To live in a hole so dark and deep That Donald Trump looks like a Savior and a Bringer of Light Is to be of all people most to be pitied. They can only hate and fear forever. How can they ever hope to feel compassion, kindness, mercy, goodwill, generosity, grace, sympathy, empathy, understanding, benevolence, charity, amity, kinship and good wishes To all those they despise, resent, reject? My heart breaks for the people who don’t have a heart that can break for anyone not like themselves.
07/15/2016 — Goldfinch 2016 05 — This is the same Goldfinch blended from four separate photographs. Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 15, 2016 There is my work, and there is not my work. The older I get, the less patience I have with things that are not my work. I may as well be in jail, or changing oil at some automobile dealership. If I’m not going to be doing my work, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing. My work is the only thing that matters. And, by now, you know that my work consist of looking out the window to see what I might see. I know that everything is the Tao for those with eyes to see. Work, not my work, It’s all the same thing for those with eyes that see. When I see like that, all will be well. Until then, I see my work and not my work. And standing in some checkout line, or driving through rush hour traffic is not lying in my hammock looking into the woods.
07/16/2016 — Goldfinch 2016 03 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 15, 2016 Nothing makes sense. Nothing follows anything. Our life is a non sequitur from start to finish, Yet, we take all of the events and circumstances, and make a coherent story of it. It is madness, with things happening for no reason right out of the blue, like a lifetime of rogue asteroids crashing into our planet, knocking us into a different trajectory, spinning out of anything remotely resembling control, and all we want is “smooth and easy.” But we take it all in and put it together in a way that makes it appear to be orchestrated, choreographed, designed and planned. We make sense of it all. That’s what we do. We make things make sense. All mythology, all religion, all of civilization, is our way of making sense of life– of OUR life. We tell ourselves things that make sense of our life. We make it all meaningful. It is our gift to the cosmos to make it meaningful. We are all weaving, composing, countless, innumerable, stories about our experience with life that make meaning out of everything, anything. We are beautiful that way.
07/17/2016 — McDowell Barred Owl 2016 10 Detail — Four Seasons Trail, McDowell Nature Center & Preserve, Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte, NC, March 24, 2016 Looking out the window is full time work. Think of two worlds– the world of normal, concrete, tangible, actual, factual, physical reality, and the world of invisible, intangible, unconscious, spiritual reality– and the window looks from one world into the other. When the world where the one looking looks imposes its will and ways upon the looker, it is as though someone shatters his, or her, reverie by announcing, “Let’s all turn in our workbook to page 24 and read aloud the second paragraph from the bottom.” Or it as though you are making love and your mother-in-law enters the room. Or, better, it as though you are making love And your husband or your wife opens the front door and says, “Honey! I’m home!” That is a dichotomy that has to be experienced to know the wrenching shock of being yanked from one world into the other. This is to say, that when you are aware of those whose work is to look out the window, leave them to their task, and hope they will see something worth reporting. Do not diminish their work, or insist that they join you in board games, or Badminton on some lawn. Their work is their life, and if they don’t do it, who will? Trust them to it, and wish them well in the task of translating the experience of that world into the language of this world– that the gap between worlds might be reduced, and all might be blessed by harmonies unknown.
Used in Short Talks On Contradiction, etc., 07/17/2016 — Do You See The KING SNAKE??? — I was dialed in on the Brown Thrasher when I noticed the King Snake gliding along behind her. So I dashed from the hammock to get a closer view, scaring the poor bird into the next county. Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 17, 2016 You know by now that these things are crucial to the development of your relationship with your Self: The practice of Mindfulness Meditation (Jon Kabat-Zinn’s You Tube Videos). The practice of paying attention to, recording, interpreting exploring your nighttime dreams and your daily flights of fantasy. (Anthony Stevens work “Private Myths: Dreams and Dreaming,” is not to be ignored here. And Robert A. Johnson’s “Inner Work” will also be helpful in a number of ways beyond dream interpretation). The practice of sitting quietly in the stillness, open to the silence. The practice of reflecting on your experience in the quest for new realizations. The practice of seeing what you look at. The practice of becoming transparent to yourself. The practice of becoming aware of your contradictions, and working to reconcile the ones that can be reconciled, integrating the ones that can be integrated, bearing consciously the pain of those that cannot be– until something shifts and you transcend the two mutually exclusive options in the service of a new way of seeing that transforms the field of action. The practice of listening to your body, and listening for the things you are missing in the situation, in order to know what you know and what can be known, so that what needs to be done becomes obvious, and you do the thing for the good of all concerned. So– how are you coming along with it?
07/18/2016 — Red-bellied Woodpecker 2016 11 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 16, 2016 I don’t have a warrior’s heart, but, I have the strength of my convictions. I don’t have what it takes to stand toe-to-toe with someone in some boxing ring, trying to pummel him to death, submission, or a count of ten, whichever comes first. But I could stand to-to-toe with anyone over what’s right in a particular situation, without giving ground or surrendering my position. In this, I am more like Socrates or Jesus than Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan, and am willing to die in the service of what I call good, but am unwilling to kill anyone over what they call good.
07/18/2016 — Goldfinch 2016 06 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 18, 2016 — This is a composite photo of the same Goldfinch, blending six photographs into one image. There is only one trick in the repertory of all the Old Masters: Hold everything in awareness and wait for what needs to be done about it to become clear and urgent, and do it. Act out of what needs to happen in each situation as it arises, and not out of what you want to happen, or what would be to your advantage to happen. The trick is to know what it is time for here and now, and do everything as it needs to be done in the fullness of time, when the time is right. The trick to being able to pull off the trick lies in knowing how to hold everything in awareness, and waiting.
Used in Short Talks On Politics, 07/19/2016 — Red-bellied Woodpecker 2016 09 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 17, 2016 When I am lying in my hammock alone with the birds in the woods, holding everything in awareness, I am at peace, awash in perfection, at one with the Tao aligned with my life, in complete accord with the moment of my being. And then, there is the Republican National Convention to shatter my peace, and threaten every good thing
07/19/2016 — The Window 2016 July 01 Panorama — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 19, 2016 — When I look out the window from the vantage point of my hammock, this is the scene that greets my eye. Note the dead tree just to the right of center. I’ll let you know when it falls if I escape. Action arises from contemplation/meditation/reflection. It is not that we think of what to do and then act. It is that we open ourselves to the full capability of our awareness in the moment of our living, and remain there, holding everything in awareness, waiting for what to do occur to us, arising spontaneously, of its own accord. It is magical, a gift from the unconscious into consciousness via contemplation/awareness. Anything that disrupts our contemplation has to be encompassed by our contemplation, so that we now hold it, the disrupting factor, in our awareness, and, in time, it will occur to us what to do about that. Out of silence comes the cosmos. The creative urge to act in the field of action, arises in the stillness of contemplation, from the heart of awareness.
07/20/2016 — Red-bellied Woodpecker 2016 12 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 17, 2016 When you are enlightened all you see is things as they are. You see what’s what in each situation as it arises. Seeing what’s what puts you at “the still point of the turning world,” at the center of what is important here and Now, in the moment-to-moment flow of life and being– at the fulcrum of the future, the place of leverage, for turning “the way it has always been” into the way things need to be. Right action arises from right reflection And right realization. Seeing is doing. That is enlightenment.
07/20/2016 — Cypress Trees 2015 03 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015 I think Jesus was quoting a popular proverb of his day when he said, “Wisdom is known by her children.” Sometimes, it is by her grandchildren that she is known. The value of our acts may be concealed for years, if not generations. Do not be too quick to condemn your choices and decisions. What appears to be a wrong move, may contain hidden gifts that work in the darkness like yeast in the dough to bring forth in you who you have in you to be. Where we have been enables us to be where we are
07/21/2016 — Cardinal 2016 13 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 13, 2016 There is the beauty of the moment, the goodness of things being exactly what they are capable of being, the truth of what is before us, in every natural setting around the world. Throw in culture, society, politics, money, power, position with personal gain on the line, and beauty, goodness and truth disappear like a dream greeting the day. If there is nothing in it for us, we aren’t interested— and we miss the gold, looking for the gold.
07/22/2016 — Downy Woodpecker 2016 09 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 9, 2016 The search for our life is the search for what brings us to life, is the search for our heart’s true love. This has nothing to do with what we want. We want 10,000 things. What does wanting know? We are too soon bored with this and want that. And that, and that… We cannot get enough of the things that do not satisfy. We think that we love what we want, and want what we love. But we have put our heart and its love on the top shelf of some closet, or in the attic, or left it behind when we moved away in the seventh grade. And we have been living in the service of what we want ever since. It’s time for a reckoning. Reckonings take place, not by thinking about what our heart might love, but by sitting quietly and letting our heart speak. It may take a while. Our heart may not trust us by now, And will test our resolve to live in its service, so we have to stay with it— with the silence, waiting, for something to stir. For some whiff of an odor of a memory, for some flash of light to catch our eye, for some forgotten childhood dream, or love, or activity to come to mind, and invite us to play.
07/22/2016 — Eastern Towhee 2016 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 30, 2016 Republicans suffer from a personality disorder known as the Alfred E. Newman-like syndrome. In that, instead of asking, “What, ME worry?” They, to a person, declare, “What, ME be wrong?” Republicans cannot consider the possibility that they could be at fault, in error, mistaken, corrupt, dishonest, crooked, or blameworthy. They see themselves as they wish to be seen. everybody else is always wrong. Republicans are never wrong. But, don’t take my word for it. Peruse the archives. See if you can find even one occasion where a Republican assumed responsibility for things gone sour– where he, or she, said, “It’s my fault. There is no one to blame but myself.” And, while you are at it, see if anything unfavorable happened over the past eight years that wasn’t, in the eyes of all Republicans, President Obama’s fault.
07/23/2016 — Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2016 04 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 20, 2016 Nothing is a greater threat to the stability of a relationship– particularly one’s relationship with oneself– than a perspective that refuses/fails to take itself into account– that refuses/fails to examine itself with the same ruthless insensitivity that it utilizes in brutalizing and eviscerating what it denounces, despises, opposes. Ann Coulter comes to mind. And the entire Republican world. and Evangelical Christianity, also known as “the religious Right,” where the entire Republican world gets its spiritual direction. Ideology is a blinding light, how can those who serve The Truth with hearts as pure as gold be wrong? We must do it as they would have it done! those who know best must be pleased– or they will be angry and vengeful, and make us look upon Hell as a sanctuary and refuge from their vicious, wrathful, ways.
07/23/2016 — Dragonfly 2016 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 28, 2016 Those who see, see themselves staring back at them everywhere they look. For those who see, everything is a mirror, reflecting themselves to themselves, showing them who they are and also are, exposing them to the piercing gaze of themselves, and providing them with a level of self-transparency unavailable to those who are not conscious of what they are not conscious of, and, therefore, do not know what all they know. Thou Art That, and That, and That… infinitely and eternally, world without end, Amen.
07/20/2016 — Goldfinch 2016 08 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 23, 2016 — This photo is a composite of the same bird blended from three separate photographs. When Jesus said, love your enemies, love your neighbors, love yourself, love those who are considered to be the least of all and the most untouchable and unloveable in every culture throughout the world, in every age forever (Or words to that effect), he was saying don’t let your ideology, or your theology, or your politics, or your fear or your hatred or your anger stand between you and loving one another. He was saying, don’t let anything keep you from living together with one another in ways that are loving– in ways that enable the other to know without the slightest doubt that she, that he, is loved by you. He was saying, if you cannot do this in each situation as it arises all your life long, don’t call yourself a Christian. or a human being.
07/24/2016 — Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2016 16 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, June 22, 2016 When Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina dismisses opposition to HB2, which removes LGBT protections and prevents new ones from being enacted, as “political correctness gone amok,” He trashes compassion, kindness, consideration, justice and equal rights for all people. In favor of his own bigoted, homophobic, white-straight-guys-are-the-best-kind-of-guys Compassion gone amok would be a good thing. We need more of that on every level of life. McCrory would do well to ride a horse named Compassion throughout his remaining term in office. North Carolina would burst into life, flowers would bloom through the fall and winter, and everyone would declare that they had not seen such a wonder in all their days. It isn’t likely to happen. but it is a signal to all of us to not allow the charge of “Political Correctness” to dissuade us from the practice of compassion in each situation that arises all our life long. Compassion is the highest of values, and the world is dying for an experience with compassion– for an on-going, unrelenting, experience with compassion. The world is dying for what we all have to offer in the time left for living. Bring compassion to life in your life and watch the world come alive.
07/25/2016 — Black-and-white Warbler 2016 11 — This is a composite of the same bird made by blending three photos into one — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 2, 2016 I think fear, hate, rage and greed lie deep within us all, perhaps our first instinctive response in the service of self-protection and self-interest and advancement– and the protection, interest and advancement of those we take to be Our People/Our Kind. We all have the innate capacity for all these things, waiting for the right environmental factors to call them forth in defense and aggression. Donald Trump strikes a cord with his rhetoric and his demeanor, speaking to that which resides in us all, sparking the reservoir of fuel for energy at the core, to incite, inflame and engulf– and carry him to victory at the polls in his self-proclaimed role as Our Only Savior– the Solitary One Who Understands And Can Deliver. It’s the only song he sings. every dictator wields the same power over their followers. Jesus and the Buddha, you will remember, refused all invitations to become king. those who savor the role are not fit to play the part. And it is the place of consciousness to recognize that and to hold everything in awareness– within and without– and to rise above unreflective reactivity in overriding the temptation to be saved and delivered, and do our own work in the service of the high values of compassion, kindness, grace, mercy, peace and justice for all people–not just our kind of people– in each situation as it arises all our life long.
07/25/2016 — Chickadee Meets Hummingbird 01 — “Hmmm,” Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 24, 2016 Six things are one thing: Seeing, Hearing, Understanding, Knowing, Doing/Being = a True Human Being. We are six steps removed from True Human Being-hood, a Bodhisattva, a Buddha, a Christ. Seeing, hearing and understanding the present moment is to know what is happening and what needs to be done in response with the gifts and genius that are ours to offer. Action arises spontaneously to meet the need, resulting in being at one with the moment, fully alive in the time and place of our living. No agenda, no plans, no scheming, no exploitation, no making happen or making not happen, just seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing/being. Practice the six things. Become the One the moment needs you to be.
07/26/2016 — Chickadee Meets Hummingbird 01 — “Mind If I Join The Party?,” Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 24, 2016 This is a “Meditation on You”: Make an actual list of the people and things you love. Spend time making it, and add to it as needed over time. Consider each item, holding each one in your awareness and allowing yourself to see it as though for the first time. Make another actual list of the qualities/characteristics of each item that set it apart from all other things, that attract you to it, that give it a place in your life. Write these lists down. over the weeks or months That you engage in this meditation, you will be making conscious the values and qualities that are important to you. Your role now is to enlist yourself in the service of these values and qualities. Pledge yourself to their incarnation and expression in your life. Become their liege servant, swearing your allegiance and your life to their realization in ways appropriate to the occasion in each situation as it arises all your life long. These values and qualities guide your boat on its path through the sea. Their actualization is your reason for living, your purpose and your meaning. Living them out in your life is what your life is all about. Repeat the Meditation on You periodically to return to the center, ground and foundation of your life– to reorient yourself And to reestablish your relationship with the core of your life and being, in service to the values that are uniquely your own.
07/26/2016 — Chickadee Meets Hummingbird 03– “This Is Awkward,” Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 24, 2016 I cannot be told what I don’t want to hear. That’s a problem. The world has to wait for me to be ready to hear what I need to hear about doing what needs to be done. The world has to wait for me to grow up. that’s the kink in the hose that is supposed to be watering the garden of life. We don’t have a problem that growing up won’t solve.
07/27/2016 — Chickadee Meets Hummingbird 04– “Maybe If I Skooch Over A Bit,” Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 24, 2016 What are our choices? What are the risks and implications associated with each choice? What is the best of our available options, taking everything into account? We don’t always take everything into account. Remember your first marriage? And, maybe, your second? What did you dismiss that should have been factored in? We tend to discount important stuff in deference to something else we have in mind. Seeing is revealing. We cannot see if we don’t look. And we won’t look if there is something we won’t let ourselves see. To see all is to know all, but there is a lot we don’t want to know– even though we will wish we had known it. Growing up is such a hard thing to do no one volunteers for it, and it has to be thrust on us by our refusal to do it.
07/27/2016 — Chickadee Meets Hummingbird 05– “Ahh. Out of sight, out of mind.” Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 24, 2016 As we broaden our perspective, we deepen our foundation. We can never see more than we can allow ourselves to see. Growing up enables us to face all that can be seen and more than meets the eye. No growing, no seeing. The path of the Hero’s Journey carries us from the declaration of Col. Nathan R. Jessup in A Few Good Men— “You can’t handle the truth!” To the place of being able to face, handle and serve “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” in each situation as it arises all our life long.
07/27/2016 — Goldfinch 2016 09 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 27, 2016 Our life prepares us for the life that remains to be lived, IF we meet it with receptivity and not resistance. We can refuse the developmental tasks, turn down the invitations to grow up, make excuse after excuse for walking away from the trials and ordeals that would call forth our gifts and ground us in the confidence of our own authority, our own values, our own mind. The door to the future is ours to open. Our past provides us either with exactly what we need, or nothing we can use depending on the value we place on our experiences, and the degree to which we reflect on them to form new realizations. The stone the builders reject is the chief cornerstone. The past we despise and reject is our ticket to a future of amazing worth. It all turns on how we see what we look at.
07/28/2016 — Black-and-white Warbler 2016 07 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 23, 2016 There is suffering, and there is transcending suffering, rising above suffering, living beyond suffering– into hope, compassion, meaning and purpose. This is the scope of the Hero’s Journey. “He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, on him was the chastisement that makes us whole.” That man is Everyman/EveryWoman. His/her path is the path of Everyone. On us all is the chastisement That makes us all whole, by bearing the pain of existence, the weight of time and chance pressing down on life and being, and enter the way of making our peace with the conditions and circumstances of our life— and living there the life that is ours to live, anyway, nevertheless, even so. Because we understand our trials and ordeals to be the matrix required to pull us forth— against our will— birthing us again and again for the work of wholeness, the work of being True Human Beings.
07/29/2016 — Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2016 17 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 23, 2016 If I were to stand before you, I would ask you what you see when you look at me. This is the quintessential exercise in awareness. In order to see, we have to see our seeing. In order to see our seeing we have to say what we are seeing. We do not see– we cannot see– until we say what we see. Saying is seeing. without saying what we see, we are stopping too soon, and failing to see beyond appearances. We are walking through the world, seeing nothing of the world, relating to the world out of our history with the world, “Seeing” what we infer and presume to be the case— thinking we have seen, then we have only “remembered,” without pausing to wonder what “that” has to do with this.
07/29/2016 — The Death Tree is Down — Two guys and a chain saw removed the threat to me and the Glen, and all is as it needs to be — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina July 29, 2016 I’m still interested in what you see when you look at me, only this time, look beyond my appearance into what it suggests about me. What do my eyes reveal about my inner nature— my choice of clothes? my facial expression? my body language? What values, qualities, characteristics are suggested by my manner and style? Use this exercise with people you meet on the street, people who ride with you on the elevator, who live in your neighborhood, who work in your building… This is a projective technique, like a Rorschach Inkblot test, that says more about you than the other people. They show you who you are. you see yourself reflected back to you in them. They are mirrors showing you to you in a particular point in time. They are doorways into a meditation, an introspection, of you. We see in others what we long for in ourselves, or what we fear might be in ourselves, or what we cannot face in ourselves. What holes are being filled by what we see in them? What buttons are being pushed? What resentments and hostilities are being loosed? What needs and longings are being stirred? How does what we say about them relate to what needs to be faced in ourselves? To what needs to be affirmed and celebrated in ourselves? To what needs to be embraced and exhibited in ourselves? In what ways do we need to become them? In what ways do we need to see that we are them? What can they show us about who we are?
07/30/2016 — Cypress Trees 2015 02 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015 We are back-and-forth between worlds, walking two paths at the same time. The Glen occasionally lies beneath the flight path of airliners on their landing approach to Charlotte International Airport. Nothing like that for disturbing the peace. This morning a Wren was chirping during and between flights. My attention was yanked from the Wren to the airliner, to the wren, to the next airliner… In this world, in that world, in this world… That is how it is between the worlds for all of us much–or most–of the time. Now we see it, now we don’t. Now we are with it, now we aren’t. Now we are in the flow, now we are out of flow. With the Wren, I was at one with the natural world, to be torn out of that world into the noisy reality of the other world. Parallel worlds in space and time. From at one with the way of things to dishevel, disruption, distraction… Yet, that, too, is the way of things. The rhythm of life. In and out, ebb and flow coming and going… There is no static, steady, way of being. Life is dynamic, in flux, transformative, always moving, ALIVE. The flow is always in place– chaos and disorder are different phases of order and harmony. We take it all in, make peace with it all, allow it all to be, allow ourselves to be at one with it all, holding everything in our awareness, we come back to the center in upheaval and calm.
07/31/2016 — The Vine Begins — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 28, 2016 The Psyche is, among other things, that which has always been called “God.” The experience of—the encounter with— Psyche breaking forth into our life, is to experience—encounter—a reality that can only be described as “numinous.” It has been thought of, and called, “An experience with God,” through the ages. To understand/interpret that experience/encounter as evidence of Psychic reality, is to lay aside all the theologies, dogmas, doctrines, rituals and religions, and to take up the life-long work of understanding/comprehending/applying the meaning of the term, “Thy will, not mine, be done.” Aligning ourselves with—living in accord with— the self-reflecting internal guidance system of the Psyche living through us to express, exhibit, incarnate, reveal, become itself in our life is to know the wonder of the realization that we cannot express Psyche without being ourselves. We bring Psyche forth in our life by being who we are: “Thou Art That.” “The Father And I Are One.” “All Is One.” “One is All.” Who would have thought it? Who can deny it? Only those to do not know the truth of their own experience.
07/31/2016 — Crane Fly Orchid 2016 01 Detail — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 30, 2016 If you have a problem and don’t know what to do, sit quietly with it, holding it— and your anxiety about it— in your awareness, without running from the pain by changing the subject or forcing a solution before its time. Simply sit quietly with the problem and all of its ramifications. And see what occurs to you. If, after 20 minutes or so, nothing has happened, make an appointment with the silence in order to return to it at a particular time and place— if something occurs to you in the meantime, receive it thankfully, and be glad.
08/01/2016 — Red-bellied Woodpecker 2016 14 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 28, 2016 — We have here an adult, probably the male, teaching this year’s juvenile, how to find food. The adult will fly to the young bird and feed it, as though it is in the nest, much like Anne Sullivan signed “water” in the palm of Helen Keller, until it makes the connection and can feed itself in the world it is about to enter on its own. We have to guard our own solitude, defend our own peace, be strong in the service of our own soul. We have to learn how to feed ourselves physically and spiritually. We are responsible for the life we are living– for living the life that is ours to live. “What life am I living?” “What future am I serving?” “How will I bring myself forth in the time that remains?”
08/02/2016 — Brown-headed Nuthatch 2016 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 2, 2016 Wisdom is seeing what you look at and looking at everything. Knowing what you know and knowing what you don’t know. Knowing what’s what and what needs to be done about it In each situation as it arises. And doing it. May we all be so wise all our life long!
08/03/2016 — Broad-winged Hawk 2016 09 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 1, 2016 Our place is to remember our place and not strive for more than is necessary to find our life and live it. In light of this I offer you what could be a daily blessing: May we live within our limits and not seek more than is appropriate an any situation as it arises, may we be content to let our life be our life, and allow our realizations to come upon us in their own time, holding everything in our awareness, doing what needs to be done about it, and letting that be that.
08/04/2016 — Eastern Towhee 2016 03 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 3, 2016 Irrationality has been around for millions of years longer than logic and reason. Guess what logic and reason don’t stand a chance against. In the conflict with irrationality logic and reason can only hold their ground against all logic and reason, bearing the pain of opposition, holding out in the service of transcendence– which itself is illogical and unreasonable– hoping against hope (Which also is illogical and unreasonable) for the unthinkable, unimaginable, impossible (Ditto) to happen– for a shift to occur beyond all expectation, transcending the polarities and making possible a new way of perceiving/understanding/interpreting the situation (Which is called in some circles “growing up”). We can only hope to grow beyond the ridiculous and absurd (And for the ridiculous and absurd To grow beyond themselves). We will never talk them into becoming logical, reasonable and sane.
08/04/2016 — Red-bellied Woodpecker 2016 15 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 4, 2016 We are responsible for knowing where our peace is to be found, and guarding it with diligence, devotion, dedication and determination. Where is your peace found? You have to know! No one is going to say, “Honey, don’t you worry. I’ll see to it that nothing robs you of your peace.” We are on our own. Our life is up to us. Our peace is ours to find, protect and serve.
08/05/2016 — Goldfinch 2016 10 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 4, 2016 Doing “the right thing” can, often enough, be the wrong thing to do. How do we know when to do what? We don’t know when to do what. Knowing what we don’t know is an aspect of knowing what we know. Knowing that we don’t know when doing “the right thing” may well be the wrong thing, slows us down and invites us to reflect, to consider the possibilities, to consult the Inner Guide, to see what our stomach, and other parts of our body, has/have to say in the matter, to look for the “Uh-oh Feeling.” To see what we know about what we don’t know, and allow what resonates with us to take the lead— Ready to back out of there at the first sign of a red flag. Do not automatically override your disinclination to do “the right thing.” Look. Listen. Attend.
08/05/2016 — Black-and-white Warbler 2016 09 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 23, 2016 Mother Nature is a monster. All that beauty, all those harmonies, are what remains of calamity, devastation, destruction and death. Out of death comes life and back into death it goes. The planets and solar systems in their orbits are the results of collisions, explosions and implosions unimaginable and unsurvivable. Wonderful Yellowstone National Park rests on the top crust of an active caldera that has blown a number of times and will blow again— perhaps bringing on a nuclear winter, and another “near extinction” of life on the planet. God makes masterpieces with a sickle and a scythe. And we have to make our peace with that. However, we choose, instead, to go with denial and distraction, and religion becomes an accessory to the lie instead of an agent of accommodation and acquiescence. We need to be able to live in the world as it is, in accord with the world as it is. Such is the essence of integration, transcendence and harmony. Anything less is a mask for the emptiness that comes with knowing what we cannot allow ourselves to acknowledge.
08/05/2016 — Blue Jay 2016 07 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 30, 2016 Elvis died empty and alone. Proving once again the old adage, money can’t buy you what you need. And drugs, alcohol and sex, sex, sex can’t give you what you need. What you need is waiting for you to live an authentic life in ways that align inner with outer, and exhibit true integrity of being with living. When we are who we are in life, word and deed, we have what we need, and no one can take it away from us, or give us anything more. We have it all, and it is apparent in the way we live day-to-day throughout our life.
08/06/2016 — White-breasted Nuthatch 2016 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 6, 2016 We cannot grow up without being different in significant ways. How different can we be? we need to be different in some ways. We have no business being different in some ways. We are wasting our time trying to be different in some ways. Here’s the plan: Our task is simple. We have to sit with the problem (This applies to all problems) of what needs to be different about us, and hold in our awareness the matter of what needs to be different about us, and what can be different about us and what has no business being different about us— and see what changes arise out of that contemplation. The rest of our life is no more difficult than that. We see and we wait to see. We don’t DO anything. We SEE everything. The doing arises spontaneously from the seeing. See?
08/06/2016 — Crane Fly Orchid 2016 02 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 2, 2016 The experience of the Buddha under the Bodhi Tree, the experience of Jesus in the wilderness, are easily replicated in our own experience, simply by sitting quietly, or lying in a hammock in the stillness of a natural setting. The silence is never silent, either externally or internally. Attend what arises in the silence, and what arises in response to what arises, and what arises in response to that… holding the entire train of associations in your awareness— seeing how this corresponds to that, and what that means in light of this… Simply attend the whole circus including all that arises in response to the circus in the circus, enlarging the circus to include everything. See what occurs to you as you take it all into account. See what insights and realizations come to mind. And if you feel like you are in the circus and not observing it, remember your breath. Inhale deeply through your nose, exhale slowly through your mouth, and bring yourself back to this here, this now, this space, this time. The Buddha grounded himself by touching the earth. Jesus grounded himself by eating and drinking. Carl Jung worked with stones and mortar. Physical reality grounds us in this world as we explore that world. Without a foundation here, there is only empty wandering there. And without exploring there, there is only empty wandering here.
08/07/2016 — Red-bellied Woodpecker 2016 16 – Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 6, 2016 We are each capable of all of the responses humans have ever made to situations humans have faced in the course of their lives. My wife’s peace of mind, and her freedom to work without anxiety in the flower beds, and that of the grandchildren playing croquet on the lawn mean more to me than any snake slithering through the yard. The snakes better take the long way around. Mother Nature is a monster, and we are her children. The Hero’s Journey pulls from us what needs to come forth to meet whatever situations arise. We cannot hold anything back that would be appropriate to the occasion, no matter how reprehensible it might be in other settings. Do not be ashamed to offer what is needed in the moment it is called for. The Dalai Lama’s bodyguards carry automatic weapons to dissuade all snakes considering slithering through the yard.
08/07/2016 — Cypress Trees 05 — Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2016 What we seek in our saviors, heroes, idols, and loves, is to be found only in ourselves. What is missing is what is ignored, dismissed, disregarded, discounted and despised The stone that the builders rejected. The pearl of great price in the costume jewelry counter. Like a root out of dry ground, he was loathed and abhorred. And he is also a she. Living within each of us, waiting to be recognized and invited to become a full partner with us in living the life that remains to be lived.
08/08/2016 — Brown-headed Nuthatch 03 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 02, 2016 There is no substitute for having the right kind of people in our life, and no immunity against what having the wrong kind of people can do there. The right or wrong kind of people are like our genetic make-up, And more important. we stand helpless before the decree of Fate— and work out our destiny under the burden or grace of that initial given. And it is important to remember that we have nothing to do with the people who receive us from the womb and are charged with our care and tending, setting the trend for the karmic matrix of our life. Things would be better for us all with a better start, and better help, along the way, here we are. now what? We start with not blaming ourselves for what we have to work with, and then we get to work with the practice of developing mindful awareness and applying it throughout our life— looking until we see, listening until we hear, pondering, inquiring, reflecting, until we understand what’s what and what needs to be done about it in each situation as it arises. all our life long.
08/08/2016 — Eastern Towhee 2016 06 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 7, 2016 If you are not occasionally weighed down with sadness and remorse over various aspects of the way things are, you are in denial. We cannot discount, disregard, dismiss, gloss over and/or brush aside any part of the truth of the world we go to sleep in every night and the world we wake up to every morning “Because Jesus is coming soon And it will all be made up to us in heaven.” We cannot use the good to dispense with the bad. tragedy and elation, joy and sorrow, bliss and desolation do not cancel each other out. We bear the pain— we live in the tension— of the polarities of the experience of being human, and carry in our bodies the wounds of “All that is grave and constant” (James Joyce) in the lives of all people in every age. It is our birthright and our obligation to open ourselves fully to the impact of having lived— to know “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” of what it is to be human. And to say, as it has been said before us, “We have seen all there is to be seen, and it is good! and we love it so!” — because that, too, is true.
08/09/2016 — White-breasted Nuthatch 2016 03 Silhouette — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 6, 2016 If we play our cards right, What??? What’s the desired outcome of playing our cards right? We live to exploit and enhance our position, don’t we? We live with wealth, privilege, profit, benefit and advantage in mind, don’t we? Barring those things, what’s the point? What is a really good effort worth if it doesn’t win the gold? And what is winning the gold worth if it doesn’t produce wealth, privilege, benefit and advantage? Joseph Campbell said the central point of the Bhagavad Gita is “Get in there and do your thing, and don’t worry about the outcome!” Play your cards right for the sake of playing your cards right and let that be enough. That is the essence of every life lived with integrity. Jesus and the Buddha head the list of those who did it with all their heart for nothing beyond having done it that way.
08/09/2016 — Goldfinch 2016 11 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 9, 2016 — A composite photo combining 8 different images of the same Goldfinch.
Donald Trump’s supporters are strongly in favor of sending Latino immigrants back to Mexico and beyond, and building a wall along the border between the US and the other Americas— and sending all Muslims, whether immigrants or natural-born US Citizens, back to their homeland (Never mind that this country IS THEIR HOMELAND by birth or adoption via naturalization). Let us then put the three groups together, Trump’s supporters, Latinos and Muslims, and ask, “Which group has no idea of what it means to be a United States Citizen? Which group has no understanding whatsoever of what it means to pledge allegiance to this Republic ‘with Liberty and Justice for All’? Which group has no grasp of the Constitution, of the liberties it guarantees and the responsibilities it requires us to accept? Which group has no conception of civility, much less of civil rights?” And “Why doesn’t that group pack up and hie out to some hinterland where they could hate everyone to their shriveled little heart’s content?”
Used in Short Talks on Good and Bad Religion — 08/11/2016 — White-breasted Nuthatch 2016 07 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 9, 2016 Start with your favorite religion and ask whomever gave it to you how they know that what they have been told about it is so. They will say something like “Everyone knows that it is so.” Or, “Everyone who knows knows that it is so— And this has always been so.” Everyone’s favorite religion goes back into the dim regions when The One Who Knew It First Knew It Is So. Everyone’s favorite religion— and all of the other ones as well— was/were made up long ago by someone who said, “I tell you, this is so! from that point, every religion is held to be the one true religion by those who have verified its validity for themselves In their own experience. Belief is self-validating. Try to talk a schizophrenic out of what they know to be so. “Reason cannot uproot what reason did not plant.” At some point, every religion has to be “Taken on faith.” It has to be believed to be so in order to be so in the experience of those who so believe. It is all made up. Like schizophrenia. The internal process of self-verification/validation takes over from there, and what we say is so is so because we say so. “Never mind what the facts are, We know what the TRUTH is!”
Used in Short Talks On Politics, 08/11/2016 — First Leaves of Fall 2016 01 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 11, 2016 — The Black Gum loves to beat the gun, and is known throughout the south as “The Show-off of the forest.” If we are going to make up something to believe, and we have no choice in the matter, if we believe there is nothing worth believing, we make that up. We make up whatever we believe. And since that is the case, I suggest believing with all our heart that what we do matters, that the life we live matters— and that we live as though it does in everything we do. We vote, for instance, like our vote matters. We respond to the other people in our life as though the way we respond makes all the difference in their life. We live in each moment as though there are no throw-away moments. We rise to each occasion as though each one is the most important occasion yet, and needs our full attention and complete participation. I write these notes to you as though they are the swing point from dark to light in your life. You can tell me they are not if you want to, but I’m not going to believe you.
08/12/2016 — Goldfinch 2016 12 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 11, 2016 How is your life style interfering with your life? Blocking your life? Preventing your life? Killing your life? If you are clueless about what I’m asking, here’s a different way of putting it: How are your symptoms interfering with your life? When our life style keeps us from living our life, our symptoms show up, move in, make themselves at home. And we spend our time dealing with our symptoms— time that would be spent living our life, if our life style weren’t in the way.
08/012/2016 — White-breasted Nuthatch 2016 02 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 6, 2016 If you aren’t pursuing your life— what it means to live your life, to give yourself fully to the expression of who you are by the way you live your life— with complete devotion, loyalty, dedication and determination in the time left for living, you’re just passing the time, hoping to be entertained and comfortable, until you die. You are a spectator, not a participant, and nothing can be done for you in any substantive way. What you need can only be generated from within: Heart, soul, courage, spirit, the will to live… These things are an inside job. You are all up to you while life is yet possible
08/12/2016 — Goodale 2015 31 — Overflow, Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015 We are here to bring ourselves forth to meet our life. What happens to us will arrest our development, or grow us up. Will open us to the hidden possibilities within, or close us off from the gifts we carry. Will deepen us, or consign us forever to wade in the shallows. Will call us out, or lock us away. Will wake us up, or numb us out. You get the idea. We are here to live our life to the full truth of who we are, so that nothing remains unlived without or unknown within. We have the time left for living to be alive.
08/13/2016 — Red-bellied Woodpecker 2016 19 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 12, 2016 We seek in others what is to be found within. We see in others what is to be seen within. What repels us about others resides denied, ignored, within— to be acknowledged, worked with, in softening ourselves into compassionate, welcoming places to be. “Thou Art That.” “Become What You Seek.” “Recognize How You Harbor What You Despise.” We are all variations on a theme. We reflect each other to each other. We are here to see what we are doing and live so as to bring forth in the world the gifts and qualities that reside within for the good of the whole.
08/13/2016 — Cottontail 2016 04 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 17, 2016 Elvis had it all and it wasn’t enough. He wanted to be as big as Jesus— and thought he was. He was waiting for it to become apparent when he died. Elvis is our model for how not to do it. “I’m not the King. Jesus is the King. I’m just a singer.” The words fall flat. “Just a singer with aspirations bigger than life,” would be more like it. How to contain our ambition is the question. How to live within ourselves— in accord with ourselves, is the other one. Jesus did it. Elvis didn’t. Where will we fall out on that continuum? The key is our degree of mindful awareness and self-transparency. Placing our attention in the service of those things would be fitting and proper in all times and places.
08/14/2016 — Spillway — Adams Mill Pond, Goodale State Park, Camden, South Carolina, November 11, 2015 All the tools of the spiritual journey: journals, coloring books, labyrinths, singing bowls, etc. are for creating space for ourselves to connect with ourselves— a space in which to commune with ourselves. The focus of meditation, contemplation, reflection is listening within— listening to ourselves, past all of the clamoring din of memories, regrets, fears, anxieties, worries, plans, schemes, etc. to/for the central voice, the voice of The One Who Knows What’s What. We are building a relationship with the center, ground, core, foundation of our life— establishing our identity, finding our own authority— by distancing ourselves from the background noise in our life, and making a place for ourselves. Solitude and silence connect us with us, and form a partnership for life. It’s all we’ve been missing.
08/14/2016 — Reelfoot Lake HDR 15 — Reelfoot Lake State Park, Hornbeak, Tennessee, November 4, 2015 — This is a repeat, just because I like it, and why not? If we fully attended our life, the way we live it would be transformed completely over the time left for living. It starts with watching all of the Jon Kabat-Zinn You Tube videos and taking up the practice of mindfulness meditation, which asks practically nothing of us. What, exactly, then, is the problem? If you would prefer to go to a little trouble and expense, You could look up NHO Hammocks on Amazon, order their $49.95 hammock with Special Promotion Straps, put it up in some natural setting and practice your mindfulness meditation there as often as you can manage. You won’t get a better prescription with a better outcome from any of the people offering personal development and life transformation coaching anywhere in the known universe. So, what’s the problem?
08/15/2016 — Northern Flicker-yellow-banded 2016 02 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 14, 2016 Tomorrow will be the 39th anniversary of Elvis’ death. At one point, near tears, Elvis asked his “spiritual advisor,” “Do you realize I’ll never know if a woman loves me or Elvis Presley?” His question begged the unasked question: “Is it more important for you to be you or to be Elvis Presley?” It’s the question we all live to answer: Is it more important to be ourselves or our image, our persona? Who are we trying to be? Who do we wish we were? What is Life? What is Death? Elvis’ life and death challenge us to ask, and answer, the questions.
08/16/2016 — Goldfinch 2016 14 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 15, 2016 There is YOU, and there is NOT YOU. We have to do plenty that is NOT YOU in order to pay the bills. We pay the bills in order to be YOU, where, and when, and how we can be. If we pay the bills in the service of thing that are NOT YOU, we play Double Jeopardy with our life, and live lost to ourselves, without hope in the world. We have to get together with ourselves, and do the things that are YOU, and be the YOU we are, in the time left for living. If not now, when?
08/17/2016 — Brown-headed Nuthatch 2016 06 — Two photos blended, using the same Goldfinch twice, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 16, 2016 Elvis missed his mother. An Eternal Boy needs a Perennial Mother. It doesn’t work that way,” and Eternal Boys have a hard time making it on their own. I think Elvis’ theme song was “Teddy Bear.” “I don’t want to be your tiger, tigers play too rough. I don’t want to be your lion, lions aren’t the kind you’ll love enough. Just want to be your teddy bear, put your arms around my neck and drag me anywhere— just want to be your teddy bear.” Our life requires us to grow up against our will. To find within what we seek without: Self-assurance, self-direction, self-correction, self-determination, self-reliance… The Foundation Stone, the Center, the Core, the Ground of our life and being can never be Mamma— can never be someone saying, “Come here, Honey, let me take care of that for you.” We are responsible for our own life– and that is not just earning a living (Elvis did that well). It is living to do what we live to do. Eternal Boys living to be loved enough, missed something somewhere along the way.
08/17/2016 — Katydid 2016 01 —On the way to the Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 14, 2016 Can you say no when no needs to be said without having to explain, defend, justify, excuse your position by having a reason that would make things, at least, understandable? Does your “No” have to be understandable, even to you?
08/18/2016 — Goldfinch 2016 15 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 17, 2016, A composite photograph combining seven photographs of the same bird at the bird bath/watering station. I would like to help you with your life, help connect you with your life, help you be who you are within the time and place, conditions and circumstances, of your living. Remember potty training? Remember the terrible twos? Remember kindergarten? Standing in line? Waiting your turn? Doing as you were/are told? The degree to which we are free to be who we are is sharply restricted by the time and place, conditions and circumstances, of our living. It’s one compromise after another. This business of being in accord with our life, being who we are, when and where and how things are with us, is completely ridiculous. Who can do it with any chance of success? enter addiction/alcoholism, suicide, severe mental illness, and deviant behaviors in the extreme— all reflecting an I Give Up And Quit perspective/orientation. This is the truth as clearly as it has ever been stated, and we need someone standing at the exit of the womb, giving us last minute instructions to this end just before we are born: It is all hopeless, pointless, useless and absurd— and comes to an inevitable and very bad end— and how you deal with that makes all the difference. When we step into the world, we enter a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” situation, and have to do what we can with it “even in Australia.” How well we put ourselves in accord with this over-arching truth governing all of life on the planet and live the best life we can live, in good faith with complete self-transparency, anyway, nevertheless, even so, for no reason beyond that’s the way we are going to do it, tells the tale.
08/19/2016 — Goldfinch 2016 16 — The Breakfast Club, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 18, 2016, A composite photograph combining two images of two female Goldfinches. The last church I served before retirement offered space for “A Gathering of Sojourners” for people to explore ways of deepening/expanding their experience of the Numen as they sought to find their life and live it. If we all had the availability of that kind of space, and that kind of gathering, we would have what we need to find what we need to do what needs to be done. What more would we need?
08/19/2016 — Crane Fly Orchid 2016 03 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 18, 2016 We all know how nice it would be to have help from on high (or anywhere) in dealing with the deep needs of life, like food, and water, and encroaching Bad Guys. We all need a sanctuary where we can express our fear and anguish, and invoke the benevolent powers to intervene in our behalf. Where do you go to find help with what you need? Carl Jung said whenever we encounter something mysterious we project our own assumptions onto it. We tell ourselves things about it that make sense to us— and have nothing whatsoever to do with what we experience. We create a religion and talk about “the man upstairs.” There is no man. There are no stairs. Jung also said, “In each of us there is another whom we do not know.” He is speaking of the Deep Self in the unconscious psyche. We project outward what is inward, and seek “out there” beyond the cosmos, the source of consolation and reassurance— that ever-present help in time of trouble— that dwells within. To access The One Who Knows within, we have to learn the language of soul, and become friends with silent reflection, holding in our awareness, the full truth of the present moment, and see what occurs to us, allowing that to draw us forth into the field of action.
08/20/2016 — Goldfinch 2016 18 — Just Out Of The Nest, Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 19, 2016 If it isn’t a part of your field of focus, it is a part of your zone of distraction. It is about the work. not about the ambitions, the dreams, the plans, the agendas, the aspirations… There is the work and there is all that is keeping us from doing the work. The work is our life, our business, our reason for being. We can talk about “taking care of business,” but it has to be the right business we are taking care of. If anything is wrong about your life, if you are dealing with symptoms, worries, anxieties, the sense that things are not right, out of sync, unraveling, falling apart, disintegrating before your eyes, You are off the beam, chasing after that which is not IT. Sit quietly, Holding everything in your awareness, until something emerges that you know to be IT, and do what needs to be done about it. Stay focused on it. Live to serve it with your life, past all of the attractive wonders and beautiful possibilities that are not IT. Get IT down and you have it made, and the rest of the world along with you.
08/21/2016 — White-breasted Nuthatch 2016 04 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 8, 2016 The two essential things that you don’t have enough of in your life are stillness and silence. It takes a lot of both to discover and live out of your center, ground, and foundation in all conditions, contexts, and circumstances, in each situation as it arises your whole life long. Stillness and silence are the two things we most decisively avoid. We take sleeping aids to help us sleep away the nights and avoid facing the stillness/silence with all that brings to our attention. We cannot deal with the monsters and madness waiting there. The Buddha under the Bo Tree, Jesus in the wilderness, could tell us a thing or two about monsters and madness, and about the ministering angles, and the helpful spirits, that are also present to help us face what must be faced: The truth of how it is with us. We cannot be anything until we can be quiet on a regular basis, and come to terms with all that is to be found there.
08/21/2016 — Downy Woodpecker 2016 07 — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, July 7, 2016 Two of the monsters we meet in the silence, when we are still and quiet, are called: That Which We Have Done Or Failed To Do, and That Which Happened To Us Or Failed to Happen. We have to face squarely and come to terms with our disappointments and betrayals, self-induced and perpetuated by others, or brought on by circumstances beyond anyone’s control. “This is the way it has been in my life, and this is the way it has not been, and this is what I have done in response up to this point, and this is what I need to do about it now.” As a Phoenix rises from its own ashes, so do we all— in living toward where we are going, out of where we have been.
08/21/2016 — Mourning Dove 2016 04 Silhouette — Zen Glen, Indian Land, South Carolina, August 21, 2016 We have to make our peace with our past and with our present— in a “Here We Are, Now What?” kind of way. Regardless of what our past has been, and no matter what our present is, they have gotten us here, now. What now, is the question. Where we are going is more important than where we have been, or where we are. What we have learned to this point in our life will be invaluable in the next phase— the one beginning now. As we step into our future, three tools will provide us with all we need to find our life and live it: Mindfulness, Compassion, and Courage. Those three things will enable us to live transparent to ourselves and keep good faith with ourselves and all sentient beings. Everything will fall into place around this.
I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing.
I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.
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